Schizo aka Fifty-Fifty (Shiza) ~ (Kazhakstan, 2004) ~ DVD

Schizo is a small film from Kazakstan that has the ability to move you with its understated, yet somehow buoyant style. Mustapha, known as schizo because of his unusual behavior, works as a recruiter for illegal bare knuckle fights, staged for gambling purposes. The metaphor of Kazakstan with its newly won ‘freedom’ from Soviet authority, may be lost on some, but what is undeniable is the imagery, which is stark, and wonderfully beautiful.

The director is Gulshot Omarova, a woman who is making her directorial debut –  quite an achievement for the actress who has worked with the co-writer (Sergey Bodrov) before. Working with  non-actors or actors with limited experience, she has elicited exciting performances from the cast – two of whom were drawn right out of orphanages in Kazakstan.

Mustapha, exploited and anti-social, is more in control than those around him realize. He outsmarts many of those who consider him a joke, and ends up paying his dues, and creating a family from misfits, dreamers, and cast-offs.

A modern vision of self-determination.

 

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